Sports Gear: Under Test

Let's look at what cycle gear really passes the test of time. Some equipment lasts better than others, and there can be a bargain to be had, but don't necessarily go by price alone as an indicator of value for money. Sometimes, quality and robust cycle gear needs serious money!

Do you have a piece of cycling equipment that has stood the test of time, or has let you down badly? Think of wheels, bike brakes, bike stands, pumps, lubricants, bike locks, bike computers, cycle clothing, pannier bags, child seats, etc.

Here we look at a number of categories of bike product, and how those products have lasted.

Clothing
CTC cycling shorts are the business, but pay attention to the seams - they have been known to unravel when brand new. If they pass the initial test, they'll be good for a long while.
I find that Coolmax socks are more snug than the regular cotton variety, and they are less inclined to lose their elasticity.

Helmets
Comfort is everything here; more money probably does get you a better-aerated design and less bulk, but you should be able to pick up a quality brand for a reasonable sum. My Giro, for example, has lasted a few years now, and probably should have been replaced by now. No signs of damage or stress though, and the straps and back-of-head support are as good as ever.

Computers

This is one area where you should try to avoid the bottom end of the market. Cateye produces good quality across the board, although I don't know what their top-flight altimeter-equipped stuff is like. The Mity-2 and Astrale are both fine, but look after the contacts between the computer and its clip-in base or they'll corrode after zeveral months. The Cateye Cordless is an improvement in this respect, but does of course require two CR-2032 button cells.

Lighting

This is an area where Cateye excels. Their square-tube-shaped light, the MK-II, with a standard 3W halogen bulb, does the trick for most on-road conditions. Get the optional bottle-cage battery pack and a set of 4 D-type NiMH cells, and you have a super light that shines for a good eight hours.
Cateye's latest rear-light LED offering is a long, thin bar of seven LEDs that have a claimed light output of 25Cd. That's a LOT for a rear light. Like most lights, it's really easy to clip on and off, so remember to take it with you when you leave the bike in public!

HRM

Polar every time, no question.
Cardiosport might have improved in recent years, but in the mid-90's the transmitter-receiver radio link did not last very long at all.

Tyres

I've just started riding a pair of 28mm Specialized Armadillo tyres on my tourer ((700c wheels), and they provide a very reassuring ride. They are also supposed to be hard-wearing, and after around 1200 miles of Norfolk country lanes (think flint) they appear to be unmarked. No puntures yet, either.
Michelin Kevlar Tracers (with a red/white sidewall) are also highly puncture-resistant, but they do wear down quite fast.
My Dawes Galaxy came fitted with Continental Top Touring 2000's, which I replaced quite rapidly because they had so little grip. They are renowned for their toughness and longevity, but I consider that staying upright when cornering is much more useful.

Tubes

Chains

Locks

Lube

Further Reading


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